Gangneung, which had been inhabited by the Yemaek in ancient times, was part of Wiman Joseon in 129 BC. After King Ugeo of Wiman Joseon was subdued by Namnyeo, the military leader of the Yemaek, in 128 BC, the region fell under the rule of the Han dynasty and became part of Changhae-gun. In 313 (14th year of King Micheon’s reign of Goguryeo), it was joined the Goguryeo forces and was called Haseorang or Haseulla.
Then, it became the part of Silla’s territory during the reign of King Naemul of Silla, and it was renamed as Myeongju in 757 (16th year of King Gyeongdeok’s reign) and Gangneung-bu in 1308 (34th year of King Chungyeol’s reign over Goryeo). During the reign of King Gongyang, there was Gangneung Daedohobu, and he had jurisdiction over the east coast from Wonsan in the north to Uljin in the south. It was renamed as Gangwon-do in 1395 (4th year of King Taejo’s reign) of the Joseon dynasty. It later became Gangneung-gun in 1906 (33rd year of King Gojong’s reign) and governed 21 myeons.
Gangneung-myeon was promoted to Gangneung-eup in 1931 during the Japanese occupation period, and Gangneung-eup, Seongdeok-myeon, and Gyeongpo-myeon were merged in 1955 after the establishment of the Government of the Republic of Korea to be promoted to Gangneung-si. At the same time, Gangneung-gun was renamed and separated as Myeongju-gun. Then, on January 1, 1995, Gangneung-si and Myeongju-gun were merged and renamed as Gangneung-si.